Sean Lynch: No point in dwelling; Blue Devils need to move past dreadful opener

September 16, 2010 

I've been asked to recount the debacle that was the Merced College football team's season opener about a dozen times since last Saturday.

Through the many retellings and the various aspects of the game that people have had me analyze, I've come to one inescapable conclusion.

The 49-0 thrashing was the worst performance I've ever seen the Blue Devils turn in during my four years at the Sun-Star.

Think that sounds like an exaggeration or a little literary licence, just look at the numbers.

MC failed in all three phases of the game.

The offense mustered just 74 yards in 59 plays, earned nine first downs and was just 1 of 16 on third-down conversions.

While any defense is going to eventually wear down with its offense continually going three-and-out, the Blue Devil defense had plenty of breakdowns before fatigue became an issue.

San Joaquin Delta racked up 485 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns.

Even most of the special teams' play was something to forget.

The Mustangs ran off 168 yards on six punt returns. The numbers would have been even more gaudy if a couple big returns hadn't been called back for penalties.

And freshman kicker Daniel Mouro spoiled MC's two opportunities to get on the board by pushing a pair of field goal attempts wide.

At the end of the day, Delta was a solid team with some good athletes.

They weren't a dominant team and they certainly weren't 49 points better than the Blue Devils.

Head coach Bob Casey said his team was just tight, the whole game.

Young kids caught off guard by the jump in pace and intensity at the college level.

It's a logical explanation and a sound one.

The players' nerves down on the field were obvious from up in the press box.

The question is, why did they never settle down?

Casey did have numerous freshmen out on the field, but no more than Delta.

As a matter of fact, the Blue Devils roster boasts 21 sophomores to the Mustangs' 16.

When things started to get hectic for MC, where was that core of veteran returners to calm it all down?

You kept waiting for one of them to make a play that never came.

I suppose none of it really matters now.

Embarrassing as the performance may have been, it can't be undone.

It's how the Blue Devils respond from here that will define their season.

And on paper, Gavilan looks like the perfect opponent to face when trying to move on.

The Rams are coming off a 35-9 season-opening loss to De Anza College.

When the schedules were released in the summer, this was the nonconference game that looked like the Blue Devils' best bet for a win.

After last weekend's showing nothing is certain, but that still appears to remain true.

Not that it's going to be a gimme.

Like coach Casey said, Gavilan won't wow you with its athletes, but it has a reputation for being physical and getting opponents off their game because of it.

A close, hard-fought physical battle might be just what the Blue Devils need.

The loss to Delta can't be erased, but it can't be dwelled upon either.

Right now the focus has to be executing better and steering this ship back towards its original course.

It's likely going to be a slow-and-steady process, but the first steps need to come on Saturday.

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at

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